CHA] 29o HISTORY OF PERSIA and translucent, has a beauty of its own, and perhap surpasses its model in freedom and boldness of design Even comparatively modern Persian basins, and plates o a creamy white paste with coloured floral decoration an distinctly attractive and are beginning to be noticed b] the collector. Carpets.—The carpets of Persia form an almost in- exhaustible theme, and although numerous works hav< appeared on this subject a really good book still remain! to be written. The antiquity of the carpet is great references to it dating back to the third millennium B.C., and Sir George Birdwood1 is of opinion that there has been cc no material modification in the artistic and technical character" since the earliest description of these fabrics. It must, however, be noted that the imposition of Islam on Persia affected their designs, which fall into two classes: (a) Those expressing the Shia spirit in animals, trees, blossoms, flowers, with free graceful scrolls, conventional arabesques and cartouches enclosing inscriptions ; and (£) those in which the design, reflecting the Sunni austerity, is limited to geometrical and angular forms, such as the Turkoman carpets with their bazukqnd*'vr "armlet" patterns. To this spirit we mainly owe the wonderful develop- ment in Persia of floral and geometrical designs and of arabesques on which the patterns of our curtains, of our wall-papers, of our carpets, and of many other articles are based in England to-day. To quote Birdwood, " the new and severely conventionalised floral type, applied either as a diaper, or in the c Tree of Life' and c Knop and Flower' patterns, gradually prevailed; and as modified in the freer drawing and more natural delineations of the ItalianesqueAbbasi carpets, it characterises the predominant denominations of Persian carpets." ?Under the Sasanian dynasty Persian fabrics known as Susancherd were highly prized in the West, and when Ctesiphon was captured by Sad, among the loot was a 1 "The Antiquity of Oriental Carpets/* Journal Royal Socy. of Arts for November 1908. 2 A bassuband is generally an octagonal metal box containing a portion of the Koran j it is worn to afford protection.